Eagles halt Knights’ three-game streak

They are at the midway point in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and the North Okanagan Knights sit in a three-way tie for fifth overall among 20 teams.

Three-year veteran Tanner Burns believes the Knights can get better after losing 3-1 to the host Sicamous Eagles Saturday night. The Knights visit the Chase Heat tonight before entertaining the Revelstoke Grizzlies Friday night.

“We gotta get more consistent,” said Burns, who scored in the third period Saturday.

“Being a younger team, we have some mental breakdowns so we have to learn to fight through adversity.”

Brayden Taekema, with his seventh of the season, and Kelyn Opel, with his 13th, gave Sicamous a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Burns netted his team-leading 17th, from Matty Saharchuk. The Knights pressed for the equalizer before giving up an empty-netter to Connor Fynn (his fifth) with 42 seconds left.

“We had a bit of a struggle at the start, but we played well,” added Burns. “We had lots of chances, but had problems burying the puck. Their goalie (Jack Surgenor) played well. To hold us to one goal, he deserves some credit.”

The 17-8-0-1 Knights fell two points behind the Doug Birks Division-leading Eagles. Both teams have registered 102 goals, while the Knights have given up three less (75).

North Okanagan outshot Sicamous 30-25 with Austin Buzzell going the distance for the Knights.

Burns said the Knights will not be expecting a guaranteed win tonight in Chase, where the 7-19-2-1 Heat have just welcomed back a pair of former players. Vernon’s Mike Keyes, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound defenceman, and Marc Mackenzie, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound forward, re-joined the Heat last weekend. They are both 19.

Keyes, is a former Knight and a rock-solid shut-down blueliner.

Mackenzie, a one-time Prince Albert Raider list, pocketed 3-6-9 in 31 games with the WHL Red Deer Rebels, and 8-10-18 with the Heat last year. He hails from Kelowna.

Forward Justin Murray, 19, who has some KIJHL experience, is practising with the Knights. He may take the roster spot of forward Owen Barker, who quit the team to work up north.

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